PRIORITY

[0001]
The present patent application claims priority to and incorporates by reference the corresponding provisional patent application Ser. No. 61/026,453, titled, “Flicker Reduction in Video Sequences Using Temporal Processing,” filed on Feb. 5, 2008.
RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0002]
This application is related to the copending application entitled “Image/Video Quality Enhancement and SuperResolution Using Sparse Transformations,” filed on Jun. 17, 2008, U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/140,829, assigned to the corporate assignee of the present invention.
FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0003]
The present invention relates generally to processing of video sequences; more particularly, the present invention is related to reducing noise and/or flicker in video sequences.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0004]
Mosquito noise and temporal flicker are caused during acquisition due to camera limitations. Modules in the video processing pipeline such as compression, downsampling and upsampling lead to blocking artifacts, aliasing, ringing and temporal flicker. Image and video signal processing is widely used in a number of applications today. Some of these techniques have been used to reduce noise and temporal flicker.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0005]
A method and apparatus is disclosed herein for reducing at least one of both flicker and noise in video sequences. In one embodiment, the method comprises receiving an input video and performing operations to reduce one or both of noise and flicker in the input video using spatial and temporal processing.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0006]
The present invention will be understood more fully from the detailed description given below and from the accompanying drawings of various embodiments of the invention, which, however, should not be taken to limit the invention to the specific embodiments, but are for explanation and understanding only.

[0007]
FIG. 1 illustrates one embodiment of a noise and flicker reduction module to reduce noise and/or flicker in an input video.

[0008]
FIG. 2 illustrates a flow diagram of one embodiment of a process for performing image processing on a video sequence.

[0009]
FIGS. 3AM illustrate examples of masks that correspond to a library of subframe types.

[0010]
FIG. 4 shows an example subframe at pixel i when pixels are number in rasterscan order.

[0011]
FIG. 5 is a flow diagram of one embodiment of a subframe type selection process.

[0012]
FIG. 6 is a flow diagram of one embodiment of a subframe formation process from the past output frame.

[0013]
FIG. 7 is a flow diagram of one embodiment of a spatial transform selection process.

[0014]
FIG. 8 is a flow diagram of one embodiment of a temporal transform selection process.

[0015]
FIG. 9 is a flow diagram of one embodiment of a thresholding process for thresholding transform coefficients.

[0016]
FIG. 10 is a flow diagram of one embodiment of a process for combining subframes to create a frame.

[0017]
FIG. 11 illustrates a monotonic decreasing staircase function.

[0018]
FIG. 12 is a flow diagram of another embodiment of a process for performing image processing on a video sequence.

[0019]
FIGS. 13AE illustrate example subsets of selected pixels.

[0020]
FIG. 14 is a block diagram of one embodiment of a computer system.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PRESENT INVENTION

[0021]
A method and apparatus for noise and/or flicker reduction in compressed/uncompressed video sequences are described. For purposes herein, a video sequence is made up of multiple images referred to herein as frames placed in order.

[0022]
In one embodiment, the techniques disclosed herein include, but are not limited to: selecting a subframe at certain pixels from the current frame of input video and finding another subframe from the past frame of output video that satisfies a criterion; selecting a pixeladaptive warped spatial transform and transforming the subframes into a spatial transform domain; deriving a detailpreserving adaptive threshold and thresholding the transform coefficients of the subframes from the current frame and the past frame using hard thresholding (set to zero if magnitude of transform coefficients is less than the threshold) or other thresholding techniques such as softthresholding; further transforming the spatialtransform coefficients using a temporal transform and thresholding a selected subset of the temporaltransform coefficients; inverse transforming the temporaltransform coefficients first temporally and then spatially to get the processed subframes belonging to both current frame and past frame; and combining the processed subframes belonging to current frame from input video to obtain the current frame for output video. These operations can be repeated for all the frames of the input video.

[0023]
In the following description, numerous details are set forth to provide a more thorough explanation of the present invention. It will be apparent, however, to one skilled in the art, that the present invention may be practiced without these specific details. In other instances, wellknown structures and devices are shown in block diagram form, rather than in detail, in order to avoid obscuring the present invention.

[0024]
Some portions of the detailed descriptions which follow are presented in terms of algorithms and symbolic representations of operations on data bits within a computer memory. These algorithmic descriptions and representations are the means used by those skilled in the data processing arts to most effectively convey the substance of their work to others skilled in the art. An algorithm is here, and generally, conceived to be a selfconsistent sequence of steps leading to a desired result. The steps are those requiring physical manipulations of physical quantities. Usually, though not necessarily, these quantities take the form of electrical or magnetic signals capable of being stored, transferred, combined, compared, and otherwise manipulated. It has proven convenient at times, principally for reasons of common usage, to refer to these signals as bits, values, elements, symbols, characters, terms, numbers, or the like.

[0025]
It should be borne in mind, however, that all of these and similar terms are to be associated with the appropriate physical quantities and are merely convenient labels applied to these quantities. Unless specifically stated otherwise as apparent from the following discussion, it is appreciated that throughout the description, discussions utilizing terms such as “processing” or “computing” or “calculating” or “determining” or “displaying” or the like, refer to the action and processes of a computer system, or similar electronic computing device, that manipulates and transforms data represented as physical (electronic) quantities within the computer system's registers and memories into other data similarly represented as physical quantities within the computer system memories or registers or other such information storage, transmission or display devices.

[0026]
The present invention also relates to apparatus for performing the operations herein. This apparatus may be specially constructed for the required purposes, or it may comprise a general purpose computer selectively activated or reconfigured by a computer program stored in the computer. Such a computer program may be stored in a computer readable storage medium, such as, but is not limited to, any type of disk including floppy disks, optical disks, CDROMs, and magneticoptical disks, readonly memories (ROMs), random access memories (RAMs), EPROMs, EEPROMs, magnetic or optical cards, or any type of media suitable for storing electronic instructions, and each coupled to a computer system bus.

[0027]
The algorithms and displays presented herein are not inherently related to any particular computer or other apparatus. Various general purpose systems may be used with programs in accordance with the teachings herein, or it may prove convenient to construct more specialized apparatus to perform the required method steps. The required structure for a variety of these systems will appear from the description below. In addition, the present invention is not described with reference to any particular programming language. It will be appreciated that a variety of programming languages may be used to implement the teachings of the invention as described herein.

[0028]
A machinereadable medium includes any mechanism for storing or transmitting information in a form readable by a machine (e.g., a computer). For example, a machinereadable medium includes read only memory (“ROM”); random access memory (“RAM”); magnetic disk storage media; optical storage media; flash memory devices; electrical, optical, acoustical or other form of propagated signals (e.g., carrier waves, infrared signals, digital signals, etc.); etc.
Overview

[0029]
FIG. 1A illustrates one embodiment of a noise and flicker reduction module to reduce noise and/or flicker in an input video. Referring to FIG. 1A, noise and flicker reduction block 101 receive input video 100. Input video 100 includes noise and/or flicker. Noise and flicker reduction block 101 also receives a vector of optional parameters, referred to herein as OP, and threshold parameters T, T _{S1}, T _{S2}. In response to these inputs, noise and flicker reduction block 101 generates output video 102 with reduced noise and flicker.

[0030]
FIG. 1B illustrates a flow diagram of one embodiment of a process for performing image processing on a video sequence. The process is performed by processing logic that may comprise hardware (circuitry, dedicated logic, etc.), software (such as is run on a general purpose computer system or a dedicated machine), or a combination of both.

[0031]
Referring to FIG. 1B, the process begins with processing logic receiving an input video (processing block 111).

[0032]
In response to receiving the input video, processing logic performs operations to reduce one or both of noise and flicker in the input video using spatial and temporal processing (processing block 112). In one embodiment, these operations include applying a spatial transform and a temporal transform with adaptive thresholding of coefficients. In one embodiment, applying the spatial transform and the temporal transform comprises applying at least one warped transform to a subframe to create transform coefficients.

[0033]
FIG. 2 illustrates a more detailed flow diagram of one embodiment of a process for performing image processing on a video sequence. The process is performed by processing logic that may comprise hardware (circuitry, dedicated logic, etc.), software (such as is run on a general purpose computer system or a dedicated machine), or a combination of both.

[0034]
In the process described below, x denotes the current frame from the input video that is being processed by the techniques described herein, y denotes the past frame output after using the techniques described herein and T, T _{S1}, T _{S2 }denote threshold parameters used by the image processing process. Furthermore, a vector denoted by OP, containing other optional parameters, can be supplied. The user or an algorithm can determine the most desired parameters using optimization of subjective/objective quality, using model based techniques, or using other methods. Calibration algorithms can also be used. Such algorithms can also take advantage of partial/complete knowledge of either the video processing pipeline or the input video or both. In one embodiment, all video frames are represented as vectors by arranging the pixels in rasterscan order and N represents the number of pixels in each video frame.

[0035]
After frame x has been obtained, the subframe selection process of processing block 202 of FIG. 2 begins. A subframe type S is defined as an M^{2}×1 integervalued vector. For purposes herein, M can be any integer greater than zero. {S^{1},S^{2},S^{3}, . . . } is a library of subframe types. For each pixel i in a set of selected pixels from frame x where pixels are numbered in rasterscan order, a subframe type s_{i }is selected from the library and a vector p_{i }is formed as p_{i}=s_{i}+i× 1, where 1 is an M^{2}×1 vector with all elements equal to 1. In one embodiment, for pixels that are not selected, p_{i }is a vector of zeros. The set of selected pixels can be predetermined or signaled within the vector OP. In this embodiment, a subframe is formed and processed for each pixel in the image. That is, the set of selected pixels is the entire set of pixels in the frame. However, in another embodiment, the processing may be performed only on a selected subset of the pixels and not on all the pixels in the image. The subset may be predetermined or signaled as part of the sideinformation. FIGS. 13AE illustrate examples of such subsets; other subsets may be used with the teachings described herein. An M^{2}×1 vector z_{i }called a subframe is formed with pixel values of frame x at locations corresponding to elements of p_{i}. Pixel i is called the pivot for subframe z_{i}. FIG. 4 shows an example subframe z_{i }at pixel i when pixels are numbered in rasterscan order. Referring to FIG. 4, the rasterscan ordering of pixels occurs by numbering pixels starting from “1” in that order. A subframe is shown pivoted at pixel i. A subframe is organized into M vectors called warped rows. The first warped row has the subframe elements 1 to M in that order; the second warped row has the elements (M+1) to 2M; and so on.

[0036]
In one embodiment, M is equal to 4 and the library of subframe types correspond to a set of masks illustrated in FIGS. 3A3M. Referring to FIGS. 3A3M, with this library of subframes, the masks correspond to different directions as shown with arrows. The mask in FIG. 3A is referred to herein as a regular mask because it corresponds to the regular horizontal or vertical directions. The other masks are called directional masks since they correspond to nontrivial directions. The differentialposition (Ω) of a pixel (‘a’ to ‘p’) in a mask is defined as Ω=C_{C}+W×C_{R}, where W is the width of frame y. C_{C }is the number of columns one needs to move horizontally to the right starting from the column of pixel ‘a’ to get to the column of the current pixel of interest. C_{R }is the number of rows one needs to move vertically down starting from the row of pixel ‘a’ to get to the row of the current pixel of interest. For example, in the case of the mask in FIG. 3H, pixel ‘c’ has C_{C}=−1 and C_{R}=2. The subframe type corresponding to a mask is the vector containing the differentialpositions of pixels in that mask ordered from ‘a’ to ‘p’.

[0037]
In one embodiment, the choice of the subframe type for a pixel is made by choosing the subframe type corresponding to the regular mask always. In another embodiment, the choice of the subframe type for a pixel is made, for each selected pixel, (1) by evaluating, for each subframe type, a 2D DCT over the subframe formed, and (2) by choosing, for a given threshold T, the subframe type that minimizes the number of nonzero transform coefficients with magnitude greater than T. In yet another embodiment, the choice of the subframe type for a pixel is made by choosing, for each selected pixel, the subframe type that minimizes the warped row variance of pixel values averaged over all warped rows. In still another embodiment, the choice of the subframe type for a pixel is made by having, for a block of K×L pixels, each pixel vote for a subframe type (based on the subframe type that minimizes the warped row variance of pixel values averaged over all warped rows) and choosing the subframe type with the most votes for all the pixels in the K×L block, where K and L can be any integers greater than 0. In one embodiment, K and L are all set to be 4. In still another embodiment, the choice of the subframe type for a pixel is made by forming, for each pixel, a block of K×L pixels and choosing a subframe type by using the preceding voting scheme on this block. In each case, the chosen subframe type is used for the current pixel. Thus, by using one of these measured statistics for each mask, the selection of a subframe is performed.

[0038]
Note that masks other than those in FIGS. 3A3M may be used.

[0039]
FIG. 5 is a flow diagram of one embodiment of subframe selection processing. The process is performed by processing logic that may comprise hardware (circuitry, dedicated logic, etc.), software (such as is run on a general purpose computer system or a dedicated machine), or a combination of both.

[0040]
Referring to FIG. 5, the process begins by processing logic receiving frame x and determining whether the subframes are pixeladaptive (processing block 501). If the subframes are not pixeladaptive, processing logic chooses the regular subframe type for all pixels (processing block 502). If the subframes of frame x are pixel adaptive, processing logic, for each pixel, marks the subframe type that minimizes the warped row variance (processing block 503). This is done using the library of subframe types (510) as described above. Thus, for each pixel, the subframe type that minimizes the warped row variance among the library of subframe types is marked.

[0041]
Next, processing logic determines whether the choice is blockbased (processing block 504). If processing logic determines the choice is blockbased, processing logic counts the number of pixels that marked each subframe type in each block (processing block 506) and, for all pixels in a block, processing logic chooses the subframe type marked by most pixels in that block (processing block 507). In other words, if the choice is blockbased, the subframe type marked by most pixels in a block is chosen for all pixels in that block. If processing logic determines the choice is not blockbased, processing logic chooses, for each pixel, the subframe type marked by that pixel (processing block 505). In other words, each pixel chooses the subframe type marked by itself.

[0042]
The choice of the subframe types for each pixel can be signaled within the vector OP.

[0043]
The subframe type s_{i }is used to form a vector p _{i}=s_{i}+m_{i}× 1, where m_{i }is an integer and 1 is an M^{2}×1 vector with all elements equal to 1. Processing logic also forms an M^{2}×1 vector denoted by z _{i }(also a subframe) with the pixel values of the past output frame, y, at locations corresponding to elements of p _{i }(processing block 203).

[0044]
The choice of m
_{i }can be made in a number of different ways. In alternative embodiments, the choice of m
_{i }is performed in one of the following ways:
 i. m_{i}=i
 ii. choose m_{i }from all possible values such that a pnorm (p≧0) between z_{i }and z _{i}, ∥z_{i}− z _{i}∥_{p}, is minimized.
 iii. choose m_{i }based on ‘ii’ above, but restrict the search set to {j: j=i+j_{h}+W×j_{v}}, where W is the width of frame y and j_{h}, j_{v }∈ {−J,−(J−1), . . . ,−1,0,1, . . . ,J−1,J}. J is any integer greater than or equal to zero. In one embodiment, when option ‘iii’ is used, the value of J is set to 2 and a 2norm is used.
 iv. calculate m_{i }based on ‘iii’ above and add a value k=k_{h}+W×k_{v }to m_{i}, where W is the width of frame y and k_{h},k_{v }are randomly generated values from the set {−K,−(K−1), . . . ,−1,0,1, . . . ,K−1, K}. K is any integer greater than or equal to zero.
The choice of m_{i }can be signaled within the vector OP.

[0049]
In another embodiment, the subframe z _{i }is formed after the past output frame y has been processed using techniques such as, but not limited to, Intensity Compensation and Nonlinear Prediction Filter, to compensate for issues such as, for example, brightness changes and scene fades.

[0050]
FIG. 6 is a flow diagram of one embodiment of a subframe formation process from the past output frame. The process is performed by processing logic that may comprise hardware (circuitry, dedicated logic, etc.), software (such as is run on a general purpose computer system or a dedicated machine), or a combination of both.

[0051]
Referring to FIG. 6, the process begins by processing logic using a search set {m^{1},m^{2}, . . . } and, for each value m^{j}, computes p _{i} ^{j }according to the following formula:

[0000]
p _{i} ^{j} =s _{i} +m ^{j}× 1

[0000]
(processing block 601).

[0052]
Next, processing logic forms subframe z _{i} ^{j }from frame y using p _{i} ^{j }(processing block 602). Then, for each j, processing logic computes the pnorm

[0000]
∥z_{i} − z _{i} ^{j}∥_{p }

[0000]
(processing block 603).

[0053]
After computing the pnorm, processing logic selects m^{k }such that it gives the least pnorm; sets m_{i }equal to m^{k}, sets p _{i }according to the following formula:

[0000]
p _{i} =s _{i} +m _{i}× 1

[0000]
and forms subframe z _{i }using p _{i }(processing block 604).
Spatial Transform Selection and Application

[0054]
As part of processing block 204 of FIG. 2, processing logic also performs spatial transform selection and application. More specifically, processing logic transforms the subframes z_{i }and z _{i }into e_{i }and ē_{i }respectively using a pixeladaptive warped spatial transform H_{i}. The transform is called ‘warped’ because the support of the transform basis has warped to match the subframe shape. The transform is called pixeladaptive because subframes pivoted at different pixels can use different transforms in addition to the fact that the choice of subframe type can vary from pixel to pixel. The transform H_{i }can be chosen from a library of transforms such as separable DCT, nonseparable DCT, 2D Gabor wavelets, Steerable pyramids, 2D directional wavelets, Curvelets and Contourlets. In one embodiment, the spatial transform used is an orthonormal separable 2DDCT in a nonadaptive fashion. In another embodiment, the spatial transform used is an orthonormal separable 2DHadamard transform in a nonadaptive fashion.

[0055]
It should be noted that a separable transform becomes nonseparable after it is warped. The choice of the transform can be fixed apriori or can be adaptive to the different subframes pivoted at different pixels. In the adaptive case, the chosen transform is the one that has the least number of coefficients in e_{i }with absolute value greater than a master threshold T _{S1}.

[0056]
A flow diagram of one embodiment of a spatial transform selection process for a subframe is illustrated in FIG. 7. The process is performed by processing logic that may comprise hardware (circuitry, dedicated logic, etc.), software (such as is run on a general purpose computer system or a dedicated machine), or a combination of both.

[0057]
Referring to FIG. 7, the process begins by processing logic testing whether the transform is pixeladaptive (processing block 701). This test may be performed by referring to a list. In one embodiment, the list can be such that the transform is nonadaptive. In another embodiment, the list can be signaled within the vector OP. If processing logic determines that the transform is not pixeladaptive, processing logic selects a 2D orthonormal separable DCT for use as the transform H_{i}, generates the transform coefficients e_{i }by applying the transform to the subframe z_{i}, and generates the transform coefficients ē_{i }by applying the transform to the subframe z _{i }(processing block 702).

[0058]
If processing logic determines the transform is pixeladaptive, then, for each transform H^{j }in the library of transforms {H^{1},H^{2}, . . . } (processing block 704), processing logic computes the transform coefficients e^{j }using the formula:

[0000]
e
^{j}
=H
^{j}
×z
_{i }

[0000]
(processing block 703).
The transform coefficients e^{j }correspond to the transform H^{j}.

[0059]
Next, for each j, processing logic counts the number of coefficients in e^{j }with an absolute value greater than a threshold T _{S1 }(processing block 705) and chooses the transform from the library of transforms with the least count H^{k}, sets the transform H_{i }equal to the transform corresponding to the least count (H^{k}), then sets the coefficients e_{i }equal to the transform coefficients e^{k }and generates the transform coefficients ē_{i }by applying the transform H_{i }to the subframe z _{i }(processing block 706).

[0060]
The choice of the spatial transform can be signaled within the vector OP.
Thresholding

[0061]
As part of processing block 204 of FIG. 2, processing logic also performs thresholding. More specifically, processing logic applies an adaptive threshold {circumflex over (T)}_{i1 }on selected elements of e_{i }to get a_{i}. In one embodiment, all the elements of e_{i }are selected. In another embodiment, all elements except the first element (usually the DC element) are selected. In still another embodiment, none of the elements are selected. The transform coefficients e_{i }are also thresholded using a master threshold T _{S1 }to get ê_{i}. The thresholding operation can be done in a variety of ways such as, for example, hard thresholding and soft thresholding. The hard thresholding operation is defined as

[0000]
$\mathrm{HT}\ue8a0\left(x\right)=\{\begin{array}{c}x,\uf603x\uf604\ge T\\ 0,\uf603x\uf604<T\end{array},$

[0000]
where T is the threshold used. Similarly, the soft thresholding operation with T as the threshold is defined as

[0000]
$\mathrm{ST}\ue8a0\left(x\right)=\{\begin{array}{c}xT,x\ge T\\ x+T,x\le T\\ 0,\uf603x\uf604<T\end{array}.$

[0000]
In alternative embodiments, the threshold {circumflex over (T)}
_{i1 }is computed in one of the following ways:

 {circumflex over (T)}_{i1}=0
 {circumflex over (T)}_{i1}= T _{S1 }

[0000]
${\hat{T}}_{i\ue89e\phantom{\rule{0.3em}{0.3ex}}\ue89e1}=f\left({\stackrel{\_}{T}}_{S\ue89e\phantom{\rule{0.3em}{0.3ex}}\ue89e1},\sum _{j=1}^{N}\ue89e{\uf605{e}_{j}{\hat{e}}_{j}\uf606}^{2}\right),$

[0000]
where f( ) represents a function.

 {circumflex over (T)}_{i1}=f( T _{S1}, ∥e_{i}−ê_{i}∥^{2}), where f( ) represents a function.
 {circumflex over (T)}_{i1}= T _{S1}×f(∥e_{i}−ê_{i}∥^{2}). The function f( ) is a monotonic decreasing staircase function as illustrated in FIG. 11. In one embodiment, the step positions of the function (f_{1}, f_{2}, . . . , f_{n }and E_{1}, E_{2}, . . . , E_{n}) are tuned on a training set to achieve a local optimum in reconstructed image/video quality. In one embodiment, this threshold computation is used with hard thresholding.
 Perform a search on possible values for {circumflex over (T)}_{i1 }to minimize the number of nonzero elements in a_{i }such that ∥e_{i}−a_{i}∥^{2}<E_{local}. E_{local }can be part of the sideinformation or default values may be used. This can be viewed as a setting for the algorithm. In one embodiment, a default value can be obtained by tuning on a training set and choosing the value that achieves a local optimum in reconstructed image/video quality.
 Perform a joint search on possible values for ({circumflex over (T)}_{11}, {circumflex over (T)}_{21}, . . . , {circumflex over (T)}_{N1}) to minimize the total number of nonzero elements in a_{k }summed over all k ∈ {1,2, . . . ,N} such that

[0000]
$\sum _{j=1}^{N}\ue89e{\uf605{e}_{j}{a}_{j}\uf606}^{2}<{E}_{\mathrm{global}}\xb7{E}_{\mathrm{global}}$

[0000]
can be part of the sideinformation or default values may be used. This can be viewed as a setting for the algorithm. In one embodiment, a default value can be obtained by tuning on a training set and choosing the value that achieves a local optimum in reconstructed image/video quality.
The value of {circumflex over (T)}_{i1 }can be signaled within the vector OP. In another embodiment, the choice of the option used for calculating {circumflex over (T)}_{i1 }can be signaled within the vector OP.

[0068]
An adaptive threshold {circumflex over (T)}_{i2 }is applied on selected elements of ē_{i }to get ā_{i}. In one embodiment, all the elements of ē_{i }are selected. In another embodiment, all elements except the first element (usually the DC element) are selected. In still another embodiment, none of the elements are selected. The transform coefficients ē_{i }are also thresholded using a master threshold T _{S2 }to get {tilde over (e)}_{i}. The thresholding operation can be done in a variety of ways such as hard thresholding and soft thresholding described above.

[0069]
In alternative embodiments, the threshold {circumflex over (T)}
_{i2 }is computed in one of the following ways:

 {circumflex over (T)}_{i2}−0
 {circumflex over (T)}_{i2}= T _{S2 }

[0000]
${\hat{T}}_{i\ue89e\phantom{\rule{0.3em}{0.3ex}}\ue89e2}=f\left({\stackrel{\_}{T}}_{S\ue89e\phantom{\rule{0.3em}{0.3ex}}\ue89e2},\sum _{j=1}^{N}\ue89e{\uf605{\stackrel{\_}{e}}_{j}{\stackrel{~}{e}}_{j}\uf606}^{2}\right),$

[0000]
where f( ) represents a function.

 {circumflex over (T)}_{i2}=f( T _{S2},∥ē_{i}−{tilde over (e)}_{i}∥^{2}), where f( ) represents a function.
 {circumflex over (T)}_{i2}= T _{S2}×f(∥ē_{i}−{tilde over (e)}_{i}∥^{2}). The function f( ) is a monotonic decreasing staircase function as illustrated in FIG. 11. The step positions of the function (f_{1}, f_{2}, . . . , f_{n }and E_{1}, E_{2}, . . . , E_{n}) are tuned on a training set to achieve a local optimum. In one embodiment, this threshold computation is used and hard thresholding is used for the thresholding operation.
 Perform a search on possible values for {circumflex over (T)}_{i2 }to minimize the number of nonzero elements in ā_{i }such that ∥ē_{i}−ā_{i}∥^{2}<E_{local}. E_{local }can be part of the sideinformation or default values may be used. This can be viewed as a setting for the algorithm. In one embodiment, a default value can be obtained by tuning on a training set and choosing the value that achieves a local optimum in reconstructed image/video quality.
 Perform a joint search on possible values for ({circumflex over (T)}_{12}, {circumflex over (T)}_{22}, . . . , {circumflex over (T)}_{N2}) to minimize the total number of nonzero elements in ā_{k }summed over all k ∈ {1,2, . . . ,N} such that

[0000]
$\sum _{j=1}^{N}\ue89e{\uf605{\stackrel{\_}{e}}_{j}{\stackrel{\_}{a}}_{j}\uf606}^{2}<{E}_{\mathrm{global}}\xb7{E}_{\mathrm{global}}$

[0000]
can be part of the sideinformation or default values may be used. This can be viewed as a setting for the algorithm. In one embodiment, a default value can be obtained by tuning on a training set and choosing the value that achieves a local optimum in reconstructed image/video quality.
In one embodiment, the value of {circumflex over (T)}_{i2 }is signaled within the vector OP. In another embodiment, the choice of the option used for calculating {circumflex over (T)}_{i2 }is signaled within the vector OP.
Temporal Transform Selection and Application

[0076]
Processing logic in processing blocks 205 uses the results of the thresholding, namely vectors a_{i }and ā_{i}, to form an M^{2}×2 matrix ã_{i}; ã_{i}=[a_{i }h(ā_{i})]. For purposes herein, the function h( ) may be an identity function or a simple linear scaling of all the elements of ā_{i }to match brightness changes or a more general function to capture more complex scene characteristics such as fades. Processing logic transforms ã_{i }into b_{i }using a pixeladaptive temporal transform G_{i}; b_{i}=ã_{i}×G_{i}. The transform G_{i }can be chosen from a library of transforms. The transform is called pixeladaptive because subframes pivoted at different pixels can use different transforms. In the adaptive case, the chosen transform is the one that has the least number of coefficients in b_{i }with absolute value greater than a master threshold T.

[0077]
FIG. 8 is a flow diagram of one embodiment of a temporal transform selection process. The process is performed by processing logic that may comprise hardware (circuitry, dedicated logic, etc.), software (such as is run on a general purpose computer system or a dedicated machine), or a combination of both.

[0078]
Referring to FIG. 8, the process begins by processing logic testing whether the transform is pixeladaptive (processing block 801). This test may be performed by referring to a list. In one embodiment, the list can be such that the transform is nonadaptive. In another embodiment, the list can be signaled within the vector OP. If processing logic determines that the transform is not pixeladaptive, processing logic selects transform G_{i }based on a default temporal transform and generates the transform coefficients b_{i }by applying the transform G_{i }to the matrix ã_{i }(processing block 802). In one embodiment, the default temporal transform used is a Haar transform, i.e.

[0000]
${G}_{i}=\left[\begin{array}{cc}\frac{1}{\sqrt{2}}& \frac{1}{\sqrt{2}}\\ \frac{1}{\sqrt{2}}& \frac{1}{\sqrt{2}}\end{array}\right].$

[0000]
The choice of the temporal transform can be signaled within the vector OP.

[0079]
If processing logic determines the transform is pixeladaptive, then, for each transform G^{j }in the library of transforms {G^{1}, G^{2}, . . . } (processing block 804), processing logic computes the transform coefficients b^{j }using the formula:

[0000]
b
^{j}
=ã
_{i}
×G
^{j }

[0000]
(processing block 803).
The transform coefficients b^{j }correspond to the transform G^{j}.

[0080]
Next, for each j, processing logic counts the number of coefficients in b^{j }with an absolute value greater than a master threshold T (processing block 805) and then chooses the transform from the library of transforms with the least count G^{k}, sets the transform G_{i }equal to the transform corresponding to the least count (G^{k}), and then sets the coefficients b_{i }equal to the transform coefficients b^{k }(processing block 806).

[0000]
Thresholding after Temporal Transform

[0081]
After generating the transform coefficients b_{i}, the transform coefficients b_{i }are thresholded using T to get c_{i }(processing block 206 of FIG. 2). The thresholding operation can be done in a variety of ways such as hard thresholding and soft thresholding as described above. The choice of thresholding can be signaled within the vector OP.

[0082]
In one embodiment, hard thresholding is used as illustrated in FIG. 9. Referring to FIG. 9, the hard thresholding is performed by processing logic that may comprise hardware (circuitry, dedicated logic, etc.), software (such as is run on a general purpose computer system or a dedicated machine), or a combination of both.

[0083]
The hard thresholding begins using a master threshold T and coefficients b_{i }as inputs, and processing logic, for each element b_{ij }∈ b_{i}, computing the corresponding element c_{ij }∈ c_{i }according to the following equation:

[0000]
${c}_{\mathrm{ij}}=\{\begin{array}{c}{b}_{\mathrm{ij}},\uf603{b}_{\mathrm{ij}}\uf604\ge \stackrel{\_}{T}\\ 0,\uf603{b}_{\mathrm{ij}}\uf604<\stackrel{\_}{T}\end{array}$

[0000]
(processing block 901). In this manner, processing logic sets to zero all coefficients with absolute values less than the master threshold T and these coefficients are stored as c_{i}.

[0084]
In one embodiment, some elements of b_{i}, selected apriori, are not thresholded and copied directly into their respective positions in c_{i}. In a specific embodiment, the elements in the first column of b_{i }are not thresholded. The choice of the set of elements that are not thresholded can be signaled within the vector OP.

[0085]
In one embodiment, the elements c_{ij }∈ c_{i }are optionally enhanced by using the equation c_{ij}=c_{ij}*α_{j0}+α_{j1}, where the parameters α_{j0}, α_{j1 }are tuned on a training set to achieve a local optimum in reconstructed image/video quality. Note that such an operation occurs after processing block 206 in FIG. 2. In one embodiment, the parameters can be signaled within the vector OP.
Inverse Transformation

[0086]
After thresholding, processing logic inverse transforms (with a temporal transform) the coefficients using G_{i} ^{−1 }to obtain {tilde over (d)}_{i}=[d_{i }{tilde over (d)}_{i}]=c_{i}×G_{i} ^{−1 }(processing block 207). Processing logic also applies an inverse transform (spatial) H_{i} ^{−1 }on d_{i }to obtain the processed subframe {circumflex over (z)}_{i }(processing block 208).

[0087]
In one embodiment, the current frame is processed without using the past frame output by a previous iteration. In this embodiment, the vectors z _{i}, ē_{i}, ā_{i }and the matrices ã_{i}, b_{i}, c_{i}, {tilde over (d)}_{i }are not computed. The vector d_{i }is obtained as d_{i}=a_{i }and the inverse transform (spatial) H_{i} ^{−1 }is applied on d_{i }to obtain the processed subframe {circumflex over (z)}_{i }({circumflex over (z)}_{i}=H_{i} ^{−1}×d_{i}).

[0088]
In another embodiment, a set of past frames { y, y, . . . } output as a result of the image processing can be used instead of just using the immediate past output frame y. Let N_{PF }denote the number of past frames in the set. In this case, each of the past frames in the set contributes to one column of ã_{i }in the same way, as described above. The output frame y contributes in the form of ā_{i }to the second column, the output frame y contributes in the form of a _{i }to the third column and so on. In one embodiment, ã_{i}, b_{i}, c_{i }and d_{i }are of size M^{2}×(N_{PF}+1) and G_{i }is of size (N_{PF}+1)×(N_{PF}+1).
Combining SubFrames

[0089]
After applying the inverse transform to the thresholded coefficients, all of the processed subframes are combined in a weighted fashion to form frame y. In one embodiment, a weight w
_{i }is computed for each processed subframe {circumflex over (z)}
_{i}. In alternative embodiments, weights based on e
_{i }and a
_{i }are computed in one of the following ways:

 w_{i}=1
 w_{i}=f(e_{i},a_{i}), where f( ) represents a function.
 MSE option 1:

[0000]
${w}_{i}=\{\begin{array}{cc}\frac{1}{{\uf605{e}_{i}{a}_{i}\uf606}^{2}},& {\uf605{e}_{i}{a}_{i}\uf606}^{2}>{e}_{\mathrm{min}}\\ \frac{1}{{e}_{\mathrm{min}}},& {\uf605{e}_{i}{a}_{i}\uf606}^{2}\le {e}_{\mathrm{min}},\end{array}$

[0000]
where e
_{min }is a constant.

[0000]
${w}_{i}=\{\begin{array}{cc}\frac{1}{{\uf605{a}_{i}\uf606}_{p}},& {\uf605{a}_{i}\uf606}_{p}>{n}_{\mathrm{min}}\\ \frac{1}{{n}_{\mathrm{min}}},& {\uf605{a}_{i}\uf606}_{p}\le {n}_{\mathrm{min}},\end{array}$

[0000]
where n
_{min }is a constant.

 Tuned weights option 1: w_{i}=f_{t}(∥a_{i}∥_{0}), where f_{t}( ) represents a mapping from the set {1,2, . . . ,M^{2}} (set of possible values for ∥a_{i}∥_{0}) to [0,1]. f_{t}( ) is tuned using optimization algorithms such as simulated annealing to get the best performance (measured using metrics such as PSNR or using subjective scores) on a set of training videos.
 In other embodiments, weights for weighting based on b_{i }and c_{i }can be computed in one of the following ways:
 w_{i}=f(b_{i},c_{i}), where f( ) represents a function.
 MSE option 2:

[0000]
${w}_{i}=\{\begin{array}{cc}\frac{1}{{\uf605{b}_{i}{c}_{i}\uf606}^{2}},& {\uf605{b}_{i}{c}_{i}\uf606}^{2}>{e}_{\mathrm{min}}\\ \frac{1}{{e}_{\mathrm{min}}},& {\uf605{b}_{i}{c}_{i}\uf606}^{2}\le {e}_{\mathrm{min}},\end{array}$

[0000]
where e
_{min }is a constant.

[0000]
${w}_{i}=\{\begin{array}{cc}\frac{1}{{\uf605{c}_{i}\uf606}_{p}},& {\uf605{c}_{i}\uf606}_{p}>{n}_{\mathrm{min}}\\ \frac{1}{{n}_{\mathrm{min}}},& {\uf605{c}_{i}\uf606}_{p}\le {n}_{\mathrm{min}},\end{array}$

[0000]
where n
_{min }is a constant.

 Tuned weights option 2: w_{i}=f_{t}(∥c_{i}∥_{0}), where f_{t}( ) represents a mapping from the set {1,2, . . . ,2M^{2}} (set of possible values for ∥c_{i}∥_{0}) to [0,1]. f_{t}( ) is tuned using optimization algorithms such as simulated annealing to get the best performance (measured using metrics such as PSNR or using subjective scores) on a set of training videos.
The mapping f_{t}( ) and/or the calculated weight can be signaled within the vector OP.

[0100]
The processed subframes {circumflex over (z)}
_{1:N }(corresponding to all pixels) are combined together to form y in a weighted manner. One embodiment of this process is described for y
_{j }which is the value of the j
^{th }pixel.

 1. Set y_{j}=0 and n_{j}=0, where n_{j }is the normalization coefficient for j^{th }pixel.
 2. For each processed subframe {circumflex over (z)}_{i }
 a. If pixel j is part of p_{i }
 i. k=index of pixel j in p_{i}.
 ii. y_{j}=y_{j}+w_{i}×{circumflex over (z)}_{ik}, where {circumflex over (z)}_{ik }is the value of pixel j in the processed subframe {circumflex over (z)}_{i}.
 iii. n_{j}=n_{j}+w_{i }

[0000]
$3.\ue89e\phantom{\rule{0.8em}{0.8ex}}\ue89e{y}_{j}=\frac{{y}_{j}}{{n}_{j}}$

[0107]
FIG. 10 is a flow diagram of one embodiment of a process for combining all processed subframes to form frame y. The process is performed by processing logic that may comprise hardware (circuitry, dedicated logic, etc.), software (such as is run on a general purpose computer system or a dedicated machine), or a combination of both.

[0108]
Referring to FIG. 10, the process begins by setting its value y_{m }and its normalizing factor n_{m }to zero for each pixel m=1:N in frame y (processing block 1001). Next, processing logic initializes the pixel index j and the subframe index i to one (processing block 1002).

[0109]
After initialization, processing logic determines whether pixel j ∈ p_{i }(processing block 1003). If it is, the process transitions to processing block 1004. If not, process transitions to processing block 1005.

[0110]
At processing block 1004, in one embodiment, processing logic updates y_{j }and n_{j }using {circumflex over (z)}_{ik}, the value of the pixel j in {circumflex over (z)}_{i}, and using weight w_{i }as described above. In one embodiment, the weight is calculated according to the following:

[0000]
${w}_{i}=\{\begin{array}{cc}\frac{1}{{\uf605{e}_{i}{a}_{i}\uf606}^{2}},& {\uf605{e}_{i}{a}_{i}\uf606}^{2}>{e}_{\mathrm{min}}\\ \frac{1}{{e}_{\mathrm{min}}},& {\uf605{e}_{i}{a}_{i}\uf606}^{2}\le {e}_{\mathrm{min}}\end{array}$

[0111]
In processing block 1004, k is equal to the index of pixel j in p_{i}. In one embodiment, processing logic updates y_{j }and n_{j }based on the following equation:

[0000]
y
_{j}
=y
_{j}
+w
_{i}
×{circumflex over (z)}
_{ik }

[0000]
n
_{j}
=n
_{j}
+w
_{i }

[0000]
After processing logic updates y_{j }and n_{j}, the process transitions to processing block 1005.

[0112]
At processing block 1005, processing logic checks whether the index i=N, the total number of pixels in the frame. If so, the process transitions to processing block 1007. If not, the process transitions to processing block 1006. At processing block 1006, the index is incremented by one and the process transitions to processing block 1003.

[0113]
At processing block 1007, processing logic updates y_{j }according to the following equation:

[0000]
${y}_{j}=\frac{{y}_{j}}{{n}_{j}}.$

[0114]
After updating y_{j}, processing logic sets the index i equal to 1 (processing block 1008) and checks whether the index j is equal to N (processing block 1009). If it is, the process ends. If not, the process transitions to processing block 1010 where the index j is incremented by one. After incrementing the index j by one, the process transitions to processing block 1003.

[0115]
The frame y is the output corresponding to the current input frame x. If there are more frames to process, processing logic updates the current input frame x, copies y into y and repeat the process as shown in FIG. 2 (processing block 212).

[0116]
In one embodiment, the frame y undergoes further image/video processing in pixeldomain or a transform domain. In one embodiment, unsharp masking is performed on frame y to enhance highfrequency detail. In another embodiment, multiple blocks of size P×P pixels are formed from frame y, where P is an integer and each P×P block f undergoes a block transform, such as 2D DCT, 2D Hadamard etc, to produce another P×P block h. The elements of P×P block h, h(i,j), 0≦i, j≦P−1, are processed to form an enhanced P×P block ĥ such that h(i,j)=h(i,j)*α(i,j). In alternative embodiments, the enhancement factor α(i,j) can be computed in one of the following ways:

 a. α(i,j)=α_{0}*(i+j)^{β}+α_{1 }
 b. α(i,j)=α_{0}*i^{β}*j^{δ}+α_{1 }
where the parameters (α_{0},α_{1},β and δ) are tuned on a training set to achieve a local optimum in reconstructed image/video quality. In one embodiment, the parameters can be signaled within the vector OP. Note that the above operations occur after processing block 210 of FIG. 2. The enhanced P×P blocks are inverse transformed and combined to form an enhanced version of frame y.
An Alternative Image Processing Embodiment

[0119]
In an alternative embodiment, the process described in FIG. 2 can be modified to get a lower complexity algorithm, hereinafter referred to as the lowercomplexity technique. The lowercomplexity technique is illustrated by the flow chart in FIG. 12. In this embodiment, the frame y is the output of the lowercomplexity technique corresponding to the current input frame x, and if there are more frames to process, we update the current input frame x, copy y into y and repeat the process as shown in FIG. 12.

[0120]
Referring to FIG. 12, the process begins by processing logic forming a frame {tilde over (y)} using the current input frame x and the past output frame y such that

[0000]
{tilde over (y)}(j)=w _{z} *x(j)−w _{y} * y (j+m)j ∈ Z,1≦j≦H*W,

[0000]
where w_{z}, w_{y }are real numbers and m is an integer (processing block 1201). For purposes herein, the notation (j) denotes the value of pixel j (numbered in the raster scan order) in the frame of interest. For example, y(5) represents the value of 5^{th }pixel of frame y. In one embodiment, w_{z}=0.5 and w_{y}=0.5. In one embodiment, the values w_{z }and w_{y }are signaled within the vector OP.

[0121]
In alternative embodiments, the choice of m can be made in one of the following ways:
 i. m=0
 ii. choose m from all possible values such that the pnorm (p≧0) of {tilde over (y)}, ∥{tilde over (y)}∥_{p}, is minimized.
 iii. choose m based on ‘ii’ above, but restrict the search set to {j: j=j_{h}+W×j_{v}}, where W is the width of frame x and j_{h},j_{v }∈ {−J,−(J−1), . . . ,−1,0,1, . . . ,J−1, J} J is any integer greater than or equal to zero.

[0125]
In one embodiment, the choice of m can be signaled within the vector OP.

[0126]
In another embodiment, the frame {tilde over (y)} is formed using a processed version of y instead of y to compensate for issues such as brightness changes and scene fades, where the processing includes techniques such as, but not limited to, Intensity Compensation and NonLinear Prediction Filter.

[0127]
Processing logic forms an M^{2}×1 vector z_{i }called a subframe with pixel values of frame x at locations corresponding to elements of p_{i}. Pixel i is called the pivot for subframe z_{i }(processing block 1202). An M^{2}×1 vector denoted by z _{i }(also a subframe) is formed with the pixel values of frame {tilde over (y)} at locations corresponding to elements of p_{i }(processing block 1202).

[0128]
Processing logic selects a spatial transform H_{i }and applies the spatial transform to subframes z_{i }and z _{i }to get vectors e_{i }and ē_{i }respectively (processing block 1203).

[0129]
Processing logic computes adaptive threshold {circumflex over (T)}_{i1 }from T _{S1 }using the same process described above and applies the adaptive threshold {circumflex over (T)}_{i1 }on selected elements of e_{i }to get a_{i }(processing block 1203). In one embodiment, all the elements of e_{i }are selected. In another embodiment, all elements except the first element (usually the DC element) are selected. The thresholding operation can be done in a variety of ways such as hard thresholding and soft thresholding, as described above.

[0130]
After applying the adaptive threshold {circumflex over (T)}_{i1 }on selected elements of e_{i}, processing logic forms a vector d_{i }using a_{i}, e_{i}, ē_{i }and using threshold T (processing block 1204). Let a_{ij}, e_{ij}, ē_{ij }and d_{ij }represent the j^{th }element in the vectors a_{i}, e_{i}, ē_{i }and d_{i }respectively, where j∈{1,2, . . . ,M^{2}}. In alternative embodiments, the value d_{ij }is computed in one of the following ways:

[0000]
$i.\phantom{\rule{0.8em}{0.8ex}}\ue89e{d}_{\mathrm{ij}}=\{\begin{array}{cc}\frac{{w}_{y}^{2}*{e}_{\mathrm{ij}}+{w}_{z}*\left({w}_{z}*{e}_{\mathrm{ij}}{\stackrel{\_}{e}}_{\mathrm{ij}}\right)}{\left({w}_{x}+{w}_{y}\right)\ue89e{w}_{y}}& {a}_{\mathrm{ij}}\ne 0,\uf603{\stackrel{\_}{e}}_{\mathrm{ij}}\uf604<\stackrel{\_}{T}\\ {e}_{\mathrm{ij}}& {a}_{\mathrm{ij}}\ne 0,\uf603{\stackrel{\_}{e}}_{\mathrm{ij}}\uf604\ge \stackrel{\_}{T}\\ 0& {a}_{\mathrm{ij}}=0\end{array}\ue89e\text{}\ue89e\mathrm{ii}.\phantom{\rule{0.8em}{0.8ex}}\ue89e{d}_{\mathrm{ij}}=\{\begin{array}{cc}\frac{{w}_{y}^{2}*{e}_{\mathrm{ij}}+{w}_{z}*\left({w}_{z}*{e}_{\mathrm{ij}}{\stackrel{\_}{e}}_{\mathrm{ij}}\right)}{\left({w}_{x}+{w}_{y}\right)\ue89e{w}_{y}}& \uf603{\stackrel{\_}{e}}_{\mathrm{ij}}\uf604<\stackrel{\_}{T}\\ {a}_{\mathrm{ij}}& \uf603{\stackrel{\_}{e}}_{\mathrm{ij}}\uf604\ge \stackrel{\_}{T}\end{array}\ue89e\text{}\ue89e\mathrm{iii}.\phantom{\rule{0.8em}{0.8ex}}\ue89e{d}_{\mathrm{ij}}={e}_{\mathrm{ij}}$

[0000]
In one embodiment, the choice of the option used for calculating d_{ij }is signaled within the vector OP.

[0131]
Thereafter, processing logic applies the inverse spatial transform to the vector d_{i }to produce the subframe {circumflex over (z)}_{i }(processing block 1205), and the remainder of the processing blocks 1206, 1207, 1208, and 1209 operate as their respective counterparts 209, 210, 211, and 212 in FIG. 2 to complete the process.

[0132]
For the embodiments described above, the optional parameter vector OP or parts of it can be signaled by any module including, but not limited to, codec, camera, superresolution processor etc. One simple way to construct the parameter vector OP is as follows: each choice is signaled using two elements in the vector. For the nth choice,

[0000]
$\mathrm{OP}\ue8a0\left(2*n1\right)=\{\begin{array}{cc}0,& \mathrm{choice}\ue89e\phantom{\rule{0.8em}{0.8ex}}\ue89e\mathrm{is}\ue89e\phantom{\rule{0.8em}{0.8ex}}\ue89e\mathrm{not}\ue89e\phantom{\rule{0.8em}{0.8ex}}\ue89e\mathrm{signalled}\\ 1,& \mathrm{choice}\ue89e\phantom{\rule{0.8em}{0.8ex}}\ue89e\mathrm{is}\ue89e\phantom{\rule{0.8em}{0.8ex}}\ue89e\mathrm{signalled}\end{array}\ue89e\phantom{\rule{0.8em}{0.8ex}}\ue89e\mathrm{and}$

[0000]
OP(2*n)=value representing the choice. OP(2*n) needs to be set and is used only when OP(2*n−1)=1.

[0133]
The techniques described herein can be used to process a video sequence in any color representation including, but not limited to, RGB, YUV, YCbCr, YCoCg and CMYK. The techniques can be applied on any subset of the color channels (including the empty set or the all channel set) in the color representation. In one embodiment, only the ‘Y’ channel in the YUV color representation is processed using the techniques described herein. The U and V channels are filtered using a 2D lowpass filter (e.g. LL band filter of Le Gall 5/3 wavelet).

[0134]
The techniques described herein can be used to process only a preselected set of frames in a video sequence. In one embodiment, alternative frames are processed. In another embodiment, all frames belonging to one or more partitions of a video sequence are processed. The set of frames selected for processing can be signaled within OP.

[0135]
In addition to the application of the techniques described herein on compressed/uncompressed video sequences, the techniques can also be applied to compressed video sequences that underwent postprocessing such as Nonlinear Denoising Filter. Furthermore, the techniques can be applied on video sequences that are obtained by superresolving a lowresolution compressed/uncompressed video sequence. The techniques can also be applied on video sequences that are either already processed or will be processed by a framerate conversion module.
An Example of a Computer System

[0136]
FIG. 14 is a block diagram of an exemplary computer system that may perform one or more of the operations described herein. Referring to FIG. 14, computer system 1400 may comprise an exemplary client or server computer system. Computer system 1400 comprises a communication mechanism or bus 1411 for communicating information, and a processor 1412 coupled with bus 1411 for processing information. Processor 1412 includes a microprocessor, but is not limited to a microprocessor, such as, for example, Pentium™, PowerPC™, Alpha™, etc.

[0137]
System 1400 further comprises a random access memory (RAM), or other dynamic storage device 1404 (referred to as main memory) coupled to bus 1411 for storing information and instructions to be executed by processor 1412. Main memory 1404 also may be used for storing temporary variables or other intermediate information during execution of instructions by processor 1412.

[0138]
Computer system 1400 also comprises a read only memory (ROM) and/or other static storage device 1406 coupled to bus 1411 for storing static information and instructions for processor 1412, and a data storage device 1407, such as a magnetic disk or optical disk and its corresponding disk drive. Data storage device 1407 is coupled to bus 1411 for storing information and instructions.

[0139]
Computer system 1400 may further be coupled to a display device 1421, such as a cathode ray tube (CRT) or liquid crystal display (LCD), coupled to bus 1411 for displaying information to a computer user. An alphanumeric input device 1422, including alphanumeric and other keys, may also be coupled to bus 1411 for communicating information and command selections to processor 1412. An additional user input device is cursor control 1423, such as a mouse, trackball, trackpad, stylus, or cursor direction keys, coupled to bus 1411 for communicating direction information and command selections to processor 1412, and for controlling cursor movement on display 1421.

[0140]
Another device that may be coupled to bus 1411 is hard copy device 1424, which may be used for marking information on a medium such as paper, film, or similar types of media. Another device that may be coupled to bus 1411 is a wired/wireless communication capability 1425 to communication to a phone or handheld palm device.

[0141]
Note that any or all of the components of system 1400 and associated hardware may be used in the present invention. However, it can be appreciated that other configurations of the computer system may include some or all of the devices.

[0142]
Whereas many alterations and modifications of the present invention will no doubt become apparent to a person of ordinary skill in the art after having read the foregoing description, it is to be understood that any particular embodiment shown and described by way of illustration is in no way intended to be considered limiting. Therefore, references to details of various embodiments are not intended to limit the scope of the claims which in themselves recite only those features regarded as essential to the invention.